x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Strauss-Kahn confronted by rape bid accuser in Paris police station

Tristane Banon, 32, accuses Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 62, of wrestling with her 'like a rutting chimpanzee', while he admits making 'an advance' but denies any use of violence.

PARIS // The former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn had a two-hour face-to-face confrontation at a Paris police station yesterday with the French writer who accuses him of a rape attempt in 2003.

The encounter between Tristane Banon, 32, and Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, took place without lawyers present although police were there. One of Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said that both people had stuck to their version of what happened.

"DSK stuck to his version of events, as did she," the lawyer Henri Leclerc said, using the politician's initials by which he is better known in France.

Asked whether his client had apologised, Mr Leclerc said: "He has nothing to apologise for."

Police are investigating Ms Banon's allegation that the former French presidential hopeful locked her in a Paris flat in 2003 and assaulted her, with prosecutors then to decide whether to press charges.

Having the accuser and the accused face each other is common in French justice when two people in a case give different versions of events.

The meeting could bring investigations to a close, after which the prosecutor could decide that there is no case, or that the alleged crime happened too long ago or that a prosecution is warranted.

Ms Banon's complaint is for attempted rape rather than sexual assault or harassment, and if the prosecutor decides to downgrade the charge, Mr Strauss-Kahn would be protected by a statute of limitations on the lesser crimes.

Police have already interviewed about 20 witnesses, including the Socialist leader and presidential hopeful Francois Hollande.

Ms Banon first made her allegations public on television in 2007, but only brought them to magistrates after a chambermaid at an upmarket New York hotel accused Mr Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault in May.

The New York prosecutor's case collapsed last month after doubts emerged over the credibility of his accuser, the Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo, who is still seeking damages from a US civil court.

Ms Banon, who said on Saturday that she was afraid of meeting Mr Strauss-Kahn, accuses Mr Strauss-Kahn of wrestling with her "like a rutting chimpanzee" after luring her into an unfurnished Paris flat on the pretext of offering her an interview for a book she was writing.

Mr Strauss-Kahn has admitted making "an advance" on Ms Banon, but denies any use of violence and has lodged a lawsuit for slander against the writer over her claim.